Experts warn many parents plan to skip flu vaccine despite pandemic

Despite the pandemic and its ongoing nature, experts warn that many parents plan to skip the flu vaccine this year over misinformation related to the preventative treatment, among other things. The findings come from the University of Michigan's Michigan Medicine, which recently conducted the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

The flu vaccine is particularly important this year as experts warn that seasonal influenza will arrive to exist alongside the SARS-CoV-2 virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, one out of every three parents plans to skip the flu vaccination for their kids this year, at least based on the poll results.

In addition, the study reports that only one-third of parents think it's more important to get their kids vaccinated this year compared to past years. This is particularly concerning because, as the researchers point out, influenza and COVID-19 have many mirror symptoms, which can make it difficult to determine which illness someone has without testing.

Testing shortages continue in the United States, where many report having likely contracted and recovered from COVID-19 without having ever been tested. Children are a unique risk when it comes to spreading either illness as they are less likely to maintain social distancing and more likely to spread contaminated droplets around their environment.

The Mott Poll's co-director Sarah Clark explained:

We may see peaks of flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could overwhelm the health care system, strain testing capacity and potentially reduce our ability to catch and treat both respiratory illnesses effectively. Our report finds that even during the pandemic, some parents don't see the flu vaccine as more urgent or necessary. This heightens concerns about how the onset of flu season may compound challenges in managing COVID-19.